Organizational Learning Facilitation with Intranet (2.0): A Socio-Cultural Approach

Organizational Learning Facilitation with Intranet (2.0): A Socio-Cultural Approach

Kees Boersma (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and Sytze Kingma (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch517

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Category: Organizational Aspects of Knowledge Management

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Introduction

In this article, we will, after reviewing the literature, analyze the cultural dimension of Intranets as knowledge management tools within organizations. Intranet is an Information Communication Technology (ICT) based upon the Internet (http://www, TCP/IP) technology. The Intranet phenomenon has been introduced in the early 1990s by the idea that it can integrate all the computers, software and databases within a particular organization into a single system that enables employees to find and share all the information they need for their work (Bernard, 1997, Cortese, 1996). Intranets function as a Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) tool and are used as computing networks used for sharing organizational information. While Internet technology is leading, access is restricted exclusively to organizational members (by means of electronic firewalls). In a study to the role of Intranets in strategic management decisions, Curry and Stancich (2000) define Intranets as ‘…private computing networks, internal to an organization, allowing access only to authorized users’ (p. 250). The term private indicates that Intranet is a network that can be accessed only by members of a particular organization. The term network emphasizes the connection between computers that enables corporate communication. Intranets run on open but controlled networks that enable organization members to employ the same www servers and browsers, which are distributed over the local area network (LAN).

The latest developments in Intranet and the implementation in organizations is the introduction of social networking software like the Wiki-technology (Manchester, 2007; Tapscott & Williams, 2007; Shirky, 2008). The idea is to use Wikis – collaborative written online documents (the encyclopedias Wikipedia is the best-know example) to make it easier for groups to write, edit in a collaborative working environment. Wikis and other Web 2.0 social software (such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) used for blogs and YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) in combination with more ‘traditional’ Intranets can be used to build companies websites, data-sets and project management plans in a more informal and collaborative online environment. Using Wikis will eventually transform Intranets into Intranet 2.0 (Sumner, 2006 (Sumner is editor of a book on Intranets published for free on the Web) and Boué, 2008). Although Web 2.0 is not without its critics (e.g. Van Dijck & Nieborg, 2009; Fuchs, 2009 state that the content of Web 2.0 is used mainly for commercial and surveillance purposes), it is seen as a promising new way to make the Internet more interactive and thus more suitable for organizational learning.

In recent debates on strategic management and learning, an organizational learning culture has been introduced as one of the main ‘critical success factors’ underlying the effective use of Intranets (Carayannis, 1998) and Intranet 2.0 (Sumner, 2006). The aim of this article is to analyze the cultural aspects of Intranets as tools in organizational learning processes. It is not so much a presentation of the instrumental effects of Intranets for the learning organization culture – the way Intranet influences organizational learning processes is not taken for granted, but studied by the way it is used in different settings. We will present a framework for analyzing the cultural dimension of intranet within specific organizational contexts.

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